Redesigning a brand is never easy, especially when hundreds of properties are involved. But consumers expect things to be fresh, and those who stay with outdated looks do so at their own peril.
"A couple years ago, we decided it was time to start looking at new designs," says La Quinta President and CEO Wayne Goldberg.
The company hired five design firms and had each design a room, with no limitations. Using their Dallas Fort Worth-South location, La Quinta gave each firm a blank box to design and decorate. "The room of the future for us, so to speak," Goldberg says.
Once the rooms were complete, they had customers come in and stay in the five rooms and then held focus groups to see what worked and what guests preferred.
La Quinta now has three new basic design schemes—code-named Unique, Fresh and Vibrant—in their corporately owned hotels, along with a few additional styles for franchises.
Vibrant, a direct result of one of the original five test rooms, is one they use selectively, generally in more corporate locations or large central business districts. It is currently deployed in 26 hotels and is slated for use in a major new downtown Chicago property that will open in the first quarter of 2009. Locations done in the Vibrant style feature bolder colors and patterns than historically featured in La Quinta properties. Rooms showcase burnt orange, pale green and other surprising—but pleasing—hues. The lobby is awash in yellows and reds and even the fitness centers get into the act, with oversized corporate slogans and inspiring phrases splashed across a melon-colored wall.
The majority of the redesigned locations—about 50—are done in the Unique style, and 15 in Fresh, a more tropical look that is being used in locations such as Florida and Los Angeles.
"They all share the same element—you will not walk into one of those rooms and not realize that the hotel has been renovated. They're distinct," says Angelo Lombardi, EVP and COO. —Paul Heney